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News Now

Washington
CUNA working to assess GSE plans impact on CUs
WASHINGTON (2/14/11)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) on Friday said it will examine the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the current mortgage finance system to identify any potential difficulties for credit unions. The Obama administration’s proposal for the future of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was released on Friday and suggests a trio of potential outcomes. One proposal would almost completely privatize the housing finance system, limiting the government’s role to assisting low-income and veteran homebuyers. The report notes that smaller lenders could have a difficult time competing under such a system. Another proposal would create a system through which the government would back mortgages only in times of financial distress. Low-income individuals and military veterans would still be offered assistance under this structure. The government could also use a system of reinsurance to backstop private mortgage guarantors to a targeted range of mortgages. The report notes that this option provides the lowest cost mortgages, and would likely benefit smaller lenders. The document does not propose specific legislative solutions. The administration noted that changes such as reducing conforming loan limits, increasing guarantee fees, and requiring higher down payments from potential homeowners could be handled through internal regulatory changes. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) in separate Friday statements said that they would soon begin working with the Administration to further develop new housing finance policies. CUNA will be following this issue closely as developments unfold in Congress and with other policymakers. CUNA's GSE Reform Task Force in previous comments said that equal access to the secondary market is critical for credit unions. A breakout session on GSE reform will be held March 1, in conjunction with CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference, which begins on Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C.
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